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7 Ways to Avoid the Winter Funk

Depressed Man

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The coming of winter is a celebration of color — first the leaves cycle through brilliant shades of orange and red, and soon the skies change and suddenly every square inch is coated with shimmering snowy white. For many, however, there is one more color synonymous with winter: blue.

There isn't a soul out there unfamiliar with the winter funk (unless you live in the tropics). When the mercury falls and sunlight becomes scarce, it's not uncommon to become tired, lethargic, irritable, and depressed. Don’t worry — this year will be different. With our help, you'll be prepared to fight the funk.

Here are 7 ways to avoid the winter funk.

# 7. Stay hydrated

Why? Believe it or not, people are more susceptible to dehydration in cold weather, and even mild dehydration over prolonged periods of time can affect our health. Studies have shown that the human body reacts differently when exposed to cold, decreasing levels of certain fluid-regulating hormones. The result: We simply do not feel as thirsty.

How? If you want a way to avoid the winter funk, drink more water! An excellent way to gauge proper water intake is to check the color of your urine. Your urine should be the color of a manila folder or clearer. Drink early. Drink often. And get creative. Adding some lemon to water will improve its flavor and add important vitamins. Lastly, try warming it up in some hot apple cider or decaffeinated tea.

#6. Start reading

Why? Because reading is a great way to avoid the winter funk! Reading offers a great escape from reality, letting you take your mind off the cold.

How? It's time to read that old classic that has been on your to-do list for decades. Go to your local library or your bookstore, talk to a friend for suggestions or get online and do a little research. Don't just go out and pick any old book blindly. Doing a little background work will keep you reading longer.

# 5. Find a winter sport

Why? Exercise burns calories and can be a great way to avoid the winter funk. Burning calories will release heat as a by-product, raising your body temperature. Finding a winter sport or group exercise is also a great way to socialize, which should help you conquer the mental pangs of winter-driven depression.

How? Most people hunker down over the winter haul, eating more and exercising less, making it all the more important to get up and get active. Get outside. Go for a walk or take up cross country skiing. Get to the gym or take in a group exercise such as spinning or kickboxing. If all else fails, avoid the winter funk by going for a swim followed by a nice hot shower._________________________________________________________________________

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# 4. Change your diet

Why? To boost your metabolism so that you can burn extra calories while avoiding gaining those few extra pounds of winter insulation.

How? Let's face it, the majority of people become less active in the winter. When coupled with an intake of fatty foods, the winter recipe is one of weight gain. So, what's a guy to do? The key is in meal moderation — eat smaller portions more often and always start your day off right with a light breakfast. Use lean meats in your dinner dishes. To regain protein, increase your intake of legumes and nuts. To stay warm, try low sodium broth- or tomato-based soups with lots of vegetables. And for the most part, avoid fatty foods like cream-based soups, creamy pot pies and chili or stews loaded with non-lean ground beef.

# 3. Get a cool new winter coat

Why? Because your old winter coat is tattered and worn and smells like week-old socks.

How? While it's great to keep warm, there's no need to sacrifice style. However, don't think that you need to sacrifice warmth to stay in style. Be sure to check out AM for some great suggestions on fashionable fall and winter coats, or you can always consult our handy Style Bible.

# 2. Take public transportation or car pool

Why? To protect the environment, to avoid the frustration of winter car care and driving, and to get warm and socializing.

How? This one's pretty self-explanatory — the next time you're scraping the frost from your windshield, just imagine stepping onto a nice warm bus where the driver isn't you. Public transportation can definitely be one of the way to avoid the winter funk.

# 1. Wake up early

Why? Because sunlight is scarce in winter. A lack of sunlight is the primary cause of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can greatly reduce mood and lower your vitamin D to dangerous levels. Lack of vitamin D is a risk factor for osteoporosis and various cancers. Waking up and going to bed early during those gloomy winter months will ensure that you remain in synch with your biological clock, leaving your spirits high and your energy stocks full. Simply put: It's the number one way to avoid the winter funk.

How? Befriend your alarm clock or try a sun lamp — some swear by the latter.

Beat the funk

This winter, there's no need to be blue. Follow the above tips and you'll avoid the winter funk until the summer comes again.

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